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Judge Responds to Book's Portrayal

As we first reported here last month, the most talked about lawyer-written novel of the summer is Chambermaid, less for its substance than its subject. Author Saira Rao is a former law clerk to 3rd Circuit Judge Dolores Sloviter. Her novel, by all accounts, is an ad hominem attack on a fictional 3rd Circuit judge named Helga Friedman, who is depicted in the book as a "sociopathic, homicidal, bipolar jurist" and "toxic bitch." The urge is unavoidable to draw a link between the real Judge Sloviter and the fictional Judge Friedman.

So what does Judge Sloviter think about this? Philadelphia Inquirer book critic Carlin Romano asked her (Ex-clerk skewers Phila. jurist):

"Reached by phone at her home, Judge Sloviter is polite and dismissive about the book: 'All I know is it must present an unfavorable picture of me because I've gotten letters from law clerks and judges saying they commiserate, and that it's not true. I haven't read it, and I don't intend to.' ...

"'You know,' said Sloviter, a native Philadelphian who graduated from Philadelphia High School for Girls, Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School (fourth in her 1956 class), 'I guess I've had maybe close to a hundred law clerks, and it's not surprising that one or two hated me.'

"Asked if, given the gathering storm, she might soon feel she has to read Chambermaid despite her plaint that 'I just have too much else to read,' Sloviter makes things clear: 'I haven't read it. I don't intend to. I really don't care. OK?'"

Another lawyer-turned-novelist and former Sloviter clerk, Lisa Scottoline, defends her former boss:

"'I think the world of Judge Sloviter.' She describes her as 'smart and kind and tireless' in the work she has done for women in Philadelphia. Scottoline has not looked at Rao's novel, but thinks Sloviter does not remotely deserve such treatment."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 26, 2007 at 03:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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